From Bollywood stars to us, everyone wants to belong someplace else

I saw Aishwarya Rai speaking about her comeback films in completely fake accent with convoluted pronunciations on CNBC TV18. Her desperate attempts to “prove” her class through her “polished” language was obvious. A lot of Bollywood divas and hunks indulge into faking this contrived personality facade.

Here the channel was English, but I have always found it amusing watching Bollywood actors speaking English on Hindi TV interactions or in award functions. They somehow manage to fake accent, but their shallow vocabulary gets exposed when they have to explain their thoughts with “You know” and “I mean” after every few words, obviously because of loss of words.

I don’t understand why can’t they speak in Hindi on Hindi channels when they have to struggle hard to get it right in English? Is it their desire to belong to some higher class?

When a newcomer is trying to enter filmdom, he/she wants to anyhow belong to the Bollywood fraternity, which is a motley group of all types of artists. By hook or by crook, they want to belong to Bollywood, at any level.

And then, once they are in, they wish to upgrade their class, they seek distinction and aspire to belong to the “higher” class of actors who are fluent in English. They want to rise above the ordinary and want to belong to a higher class. They wish to appear “different” from those Desi actors who can’t even speak English.

Junior actors or veterans, stars or wannabes, all want to belong somewhere.

So do we all.

We all crave to belong somewhere. There where we are not.
This is one proof of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And that is where a huge untapped market lies.

“I mean. You know?”

Career में महिला और पुरुष समान क्यों नहीं हैं ?

Career में आगे बढना पुरुषों के मुकाबले  महिलाओंके लिए ज्यादा कठिन है | व्यवसाय-नौकरी करनेवाली career महिलाओं का जीवन आसान नहीं है |

PepsiCo कंपनी के सर्वोच्च स्थान पर बिराजमान भारतीय NRI महिला इन्द्रा नूयी ने अपनी ज़िंदगी का एक उदाहरण दे कर इस बात को पेश करने की कोशिश की है की अपनी Career में आगे बढने के लिए महिलाओंको ओफिस में तो पुरुषों के जितनी महेनत करनी ही पडती है, लेकिन साथ साथ उन्हें घर-परिवार की जिम्मेदारियां भी निभानी पडतीं हैं, जो पुरुषों को नहीं करना पडता | दोनों क्षेत्रों को न्याय देने में कहीं न कहीं तो कमी रह ही जाती है | इस वजह से महिलाओं को हमेशा अपने आप के साथ कुछ न कुछ समझौता-समाधान करना ही पडता है |

इन्द्रा नूयी के साथ उनकी माता, उनके पति राज नूयी तथा उनकी दो बेटियां उनके अमरिका के घर में रहतीं हैं | हर रोज रात १२ बजे ओफिस से घर पहुंचनेवाली इन्द्रा नूयी को जिस दिन PepsiCo की President चुना गया उस दिन वह दो घंटे जल्दी रात १० बजे घर पहुंची | अपनी मां को यह खुशखबर वह खुद देना चाहतीं थीं |

घर पहुंचते ही इन्द्राजी ने अपनी मां से कहा “मां, आज मैं आप के लिए एक बडी खुशखबर लाई हुं |”

मां : “तुम्हारी खुशखबर बाद में | पहले तुम दुकान पर जा कर दूध ले आओ |”

इन्द्रा : “मैं ने गैरेज में राज की गाडी देखी | वह कब आये है? आप उन्हें भी तो दूध लाने के लिए कह सकतीं थीं |”

मां : “राज ८ बजे आये हैं, लेकिन वह थक गये हैं | कल सुबह के लिए घर में दूध नहीं है, इस लिए तुम ही जा कर पहले दूध ले आओ |”

आखिर इन्द्रा पास वाले स्टोर पर जा कर दूध ले कर आईं और अपनी मां को मजाक में कहा “क्या मां, आप की बेटी को दुनिया की इतनी बडी कंपनी का President चुना गया है, और आप उस को दूध लेने को भेजतीं हैं?”

तब उनकी मां ने इन्द्रा नूयी को जो कहा वह अपनी Career में व्यस्त हर महिला की कठिन वास्तविकता का प्रतिघोष है | इन्द्रा नूयी की मां ने कहा, “हां, माना की तुम बडी कंपनी की प्रेसिडेन्ट हो, लेकिन उस के साथ साथ तुम एक मां, एक पत्नी, एक पुत्री और एक बहु भी हो | तुम्हारी कंपनी की प्रेसिडेन्ट की भूमिका तो और कोई भी निभा सकता है, परंतु तुम्हारी घर की यह भूमिकाएं और कोई नहीं निभा सकता | इस लिए हर रोज जब घर पहुंचो तब PepsiCo कंपनी की प्रेसिडेन्ट का ताज गैरेज में ही छोड कर आना, और अपने घर की जिम्मेदारियों की भूमिकाएं निभाना |”

दुनियाभर में करोडों इन्द्राएं इसी तरह अपनी Career और अपने घर-परिवार की जिन्मेदारियों को संतुलित करने के लिए झुझतीं रहतीं हैं |

खाना पकाना, कपडे-बरतन-साफ सफाई, घर का सामान खरिदना, बच्चे पैदा करना, उनका पालन-पोषण, उनकी  पढ़ाई, सांस-ससुर की देखभाल, ससुराल और परिवार के अन्य सभ्यों के साथ तालमेल बनाये रखना यह सारी जिम्मेदारियों का महत्तम बोज घर की महिला के सिर पर ही होता है | अपने नौकरी-व्यवसाय में व्यस्त महिलाओं के लिए भी इस में से राहत नहीं है, फिर चाहे वह PepsiCo की प्रेसिडेन्ट इन्द्रा नूयी भी क्यों न हो?

हम नारी शक्ति को सन्मान देने की बातें करते हैं | भ्रूण-हत्या रोकने की, बेटियां बचाने की मोहीम चलाते हैं | यह बहोत अच्छी बातें हैं | लेकिन अगर इस के साथ साथ हमारे घर, परिवार, समाज में जो ऐसी महिलाएं हैं जो अपना Career और घर-परिवार की दुगनी जिम्मेदारियां निभा रहीं हैं, उन्हें समझने की कोशिश करेंगे, उनके प्रयत्नों की कदर करेंगे, हो सके तो उनकी सहायता कर के कुछ जिम्मेदारियां कम करेंगे, और कुछ न हो सके तो कम से कम उनकी जिम्मेदारियों का बोज नहीं बढाएंगे, तो वह नारी शक्ति के सन्मान से कम नहीं होगा |

क्यों कि Career के मामले में पुरुषों का पलडा भारी है | उन्हें Career में सफल होने के लिए महिलाओं की तुलना में कम बोज उठाने पडते हैं | स्त्री-पुरुष की असमानता का संबंध इस बोज से भी है | अगर हमें समानता लानी हो, तो यह बोज समान करना होगा |

नरेन्द्र मोदी कैसे सफल हो सकेंगे?

हमने नरेन्द्र मोदी पर बडी आश तो लगाइ है, लेकिन क्या मोदी साहब के पास कोई जादुई छड़ी है की वह उसे घुमायेंगे और सब कुछ ठीक हो जायेगा?

अगर भारत को आगे बढ़ाना है, तो सवा सौ करोड जनता के इस देश के नागरिकों को भी कुछ करना पडेगा |

सरकारी नौकरों के एश-ओ-आराम तथा politicians के बेसुमार धन-दौलत-जाहोजलाली का उदाहरण देखकर हम में से कई लोगों को भी काम न कर के पैसा कमाने की लालच लगी है | भारत के कुछ लोगों की सोच भी सरकारी हो गई है | दूसरी ओर आजकल हार्डवर्क के बदले “स्मार्ट वर्क” का ट्रेन्ड चला है | सब जगह कम से कम महेनत कर के “येनकेन प्रकारेण” ज्यादा से ज्यादा लाभ कमाने की रेस लगी है | यह खतरनाक आदत बदलनी होगी |

आठ घंटों के ओफिस समय में आधा घंटा देर से आना, फिर आधा घंटा चाय-पानी और इधर-उधर टाइम-पास करना | १ घंटे का लंच-टाइम लेना और बिच में दो-तीन टी-ब्रेक लेना | छूटने के समय से आधे घंटे पहले ही इस की तैयारी में लग जाना | बाकी के समय भी ओवरटाइम और छूट्टीयां कितनी मिलेंगी इस की फिक्र में लगे रहना | किसी भी ओफिस में ऐसे सरकारी attitude वाले, सदैव घडी और कैलन्डर  देखकर काम का नाटक करनेवाले character मिलेंगे | ऐसी मानसिकता प्रगति की नहीं, बल्की अधोगति की निशानी है |

कुछ बिझनेसमेनों में भी कस्टमर को cheat करके, उसे उल्लु बनाकर किसी भी तरह उसे अपनी चीज़ चीपकाके “मलाई” खा कर अपनी होशियारी साबित करने की होड लगी है | सरकार के टैक्स जमा नहीं करना, लांच-रिशवत दे कर के, गलत तरिकों से पैसा कमाना, काला धन जमा कर के देश के प्रति अपना रुण अदा नहीं करना यह भी सरकारी attitude से कम नहीं है |

किसी भी देश की प्रगति का आधार अधिकांश वह कितनी प्रोडक्ट या सर्विस उपलब्ध करा सकता है, उस के उपर है | अगर हमें आगे बढना है, तो कम से कम काम कर के ज्यादा से ज्यादा पैसा एंटने का कामचोरी का सरकारी attitude बदलना होगा | काम के प्रति हमारा रवैया बदलना होगा | हमारी आलस दूर करनी होगी | अपने समय का पालन करना होगा | हमारे जीवन में Discipline लाना होगा |

अगर हम ऐसा नहीं कर सकेंगे, तो नरेन्द्र मोदी साहब नाम की जादुई छडी भी कुछ नहीं कर सकेगी |

Yes Ms Shobhaa De, India knows how to differentiate between ’56 Ki Chhati’ and ‘D Cup’

I read a quote by Shobhaa De in The Times Of India, Mumbai dated 5th March 2014. She’s quoted “56-inch chest. This is political chest-thumping at its most ridiculous. What would happen if a woman candidate were to speak of her D cup?” on Narendra Modi’s election rhetoric.

Respected Ms De, you, being an Indian, are well aware of the nuances of our lingo. The term ’56 Ki Chhati’ and ‘D Cup’ don’t amuse the same target. These are targeted to two entirely different segments of the society.

Yes, some people in the society may be interested in knowing about ‘D’ or other cup sizes, and they may be lured by such characteristics, but I believe that won’t be a majority. For obvious reasons, Rakhi Sawants of the society are not taken seriously when discussing the matter of nation’s future and its leadership, even though they may be hit on other platforms and on other occasions where curves and dimensions of a different type matter.

The larger segment of India today is more interested in somebody more resolute and bold who has the courage to lead the country with his vision, audacity and determination. This could be a man or a woman. ’56 Ki Chhati’ is gender-neutral, because it is not in the body, it is somewhere above the shoulder, in the mind, where it matters.

To lead a country, ’56 Ki Chhati’ is a must. To drive a misguided leader, a ‘D Cup’ may suffice in some special cases, as old and recent history has shown.

India needs a person with the metaphorical ’56 Ki Chhati’ to lead it. Others may flaunt their ‘Cups’ to win the battles of the other kind.

Effective execution requires cultural change

IRCTC, the Indian Railway’s organization responsible for online ticket booking among other things, has done a great job and has contributed immensely in making traveling a lot easier by successfully implementing online train reservations system.

One of the initiatives that IRCTC has taken up is discouraging printing of e-tickets. This is indeed a noble cause to save paper, ink and manpower. As soon as we give a command to print the e-ticket after booking it on IRCTC web site, it immediately informs us through a pop-up box that “You can travel by carrying the SMS sent by IRCTC or the PDF document (soft copy) of your e-ticket.”

But, one thing I have observed during my frequent rail travels. As soon as a Ticket Checker is shown a mobile or tablet for the SMS or soft copy of the e-ticket, he invariably asks for the identity card of the ticket holder. Even though carrying an original i-card is mandatory for e-tickets, many TCs generally don’t insist on checking the i-cards if we show them the printout of the e-ticket.

But, as soon as we show a digital form of e-ticket or SMS, they somehow feel the urge to surely check the i-card. I don’t see any reason for this behavior because carrying a printed ticket does not lend any more authenticity to the identity of the traveller than carrying its digital equivalent. I think it has become a habit, to see a ticket in paper form. When the equivalent of that ticket is shown in a tiny SMS, somehow some TCs get a cultural shock. Those who have not yet adjusted to this e-reality, still want to stick to ‘checking’ something tangible, if not a paper ticket, then at least a physical i-card. But they want to ‘check’ something for sure. They forget the perfect system of IRCTC, that the SMS is sent to the number which is specified while booking the ticket. It is almost foolproof.

But, some lesser enlightened ones among the TCs need technological upgrading of their knowledge and skills. They need to be trained to look the printed and digital forms of tickets at par. At present, due to their digital semi-literacy, they seem to doubt something in carrying SMS/soft copy of the ticket. This type of insistence disappoints the ticket holder and refutes the ideal purpose of discouraging the prints and saving some trees.  A lofty organizational goal may get defeated in execution if we don’t communicate to the cultural habits of our employees.

Leadership lessons from young CEO Tarun Katial

The young CEO of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (92.7 Big FM) recently shared his experiences as a young leader. Here are some of his insights :

Culture building is the key thing : The leader’s job is to build a strong culture in the organization. A company is known for its culture. When an employee leaves, he may come back to our company, if he can’t adjust to the culture at the new organization.

How to win confidence as a new leader : A leader’s success in the new organization depends on his success with the people. Insecurity in people’s minds must be addressed quickly and surely. When a leader goes to the new organization, he should not bring ‘his’ people from outside or from his own circles. He must try and understand existing set of people and let them perform at their optimal potential without fear.

How a leader should take decisions : The values that our parents teach in childhood like honestly, transparency, humility etc. must be always remembered because these basic moral values can be our consistent compass and they can always help us in handling crisis and challenges of our work life. According to Tarun, when in confusion about taking some important, sensitive decision, one simple method can be to ask yourself “Would my parents do this to me?” or “Would I do this to my child?”. Answer to these questions may clearly provide you a way out of the dilemma.

How to identify winners in the team : Just like any sports game of Cricket, Football etc, there are two types of people : Players and Fans or spectators. Players are those who work. Who put in hard work. Who don’t run away. Who provide stability. Fans are those who look for failures and excuses for not doing or getting things done. Find out the players and fans in the organizations. Players must be nurtured. Players will provide stability always whether we may win or lose a particular game. Fans will crib, live in the past and will eventually quit. Keep the players. They provide stability, which is very vital for the success of an organization.

How to develop people : Give time to people as much as you may need to complete a task. Don’t sit on their neck. Don’t create favorites. Treat all with the only yardstick of performance. A leader’s job is to make sure that everybody in the team wins. With people, be transparent, not translucent, because your duality will become apparent soon and you will lose trust of your people. Develop an ability to be empathetic and to look within by regularly spending some time with yourself.

How to get accepted as a leader of the people elder to you : Humility is the only approach to win confidence and co-operation of people older than us. With them, we should not use Ego or Position Power. Tarun said he always calls the older people respectfully by addressing them “Sir” even if they may be structurally reporting to him.

Really, the young CEO of Big FM gave some Big lessons on leadership. May be only because of his humility and commitment towards people  development, he has moved ahead rapidly in his career. Tarun has not given up his adolescence as far as seeking guidance form parental teaching is concerned. If the child in us remembers his childhood and its learning, many of the problems of adulthood can be resolved.

What your office cleanliness speaks about your business?

At first, it may sound funny or may appear insignificant, but the level of cleanliness in work place reflects a lot of important things about the organization.

A lot of work goes in keeping all parts of an office neat and clean during the busy day. In spite of that, some offices meticulously maintain the cleanliness. There is somebody who is assigned the responsibility to regularly wipe the place clean. This reflects the owner’s attitude of tidiness and cleanliness. The attention given to ensure good upkeep of the office tells about their overall healthy approach towards the business.

I was surprised at a gentleman’s insistence to visit toilet of every office that he visited. He told me that he checks the toilets to check the owners’ attitude. The condition of the toilet told him a lot about the owners and the future of the business. Only if the toilets are well maintained and clean, he will think positively about the business, he said. If the toilets are stinking, so is the business, he opined. Why else the owner would choose to ignore the stink and not do anything about it?

In a city like Mumbai, businesses sometimes do not have a choice to have separate toilets, when they have the premises within a co-operative society or an industrial estate. But still, within that shared facility, some action can be jointly taken by heralding support from other occupants.

In a seminar conducted by Radhakrishnan Pillai about application of Chanakya’s principles in business, he pointed out that Chanakya always strongly recommended good maintenance of the fort of the state, which corresponds to the office in business. One must give extra attention, make special arrangement and investment to ensure that the office is always kept clean.

Employees love to work in a clean work place. Their productivity and enthusiasm surely improve. Visitors also like to visit such places. The image of the organization gets a boost. Overall, a clean work place is a highly essential and profitable proposition for long term growth of the organization.

Check out the dirt, garbage, litter and stink around your work place. Before your employees, vendors, customers get repulsed by it, take steps to get it cleaned up. Make sure that the toilets in the work place do not stink and are maintained clean. Some visitor, very important for your business, may be noticing that, too…!

Remember, finally it is our work place. And as they say, work should be done like worship. A place of worship must be kept clean. Otherwise, the Gods will get angry…!

What damages the reputation of our business?

Suppliers or vendors are the lifeline of a business. They provide us with materials, parts, accessories, products and services which help the business in carrying out operations to manufacture our products and satisfy our customers’ needs. The success of the business depends a lot on them.

But, we must check : are these suppliers being treated well by our people? Are they considered as the lifeline of the business?

Often not. One sad and unpleasant aspect is the supplier payment process. I have seen some suppliers’ representatives repeatedly following up or visiting their customers’ business places for collecting their over due payments. And they are often told to come back after few days. Payment to suppliers, vendors or service providers is one thing some companies want to delay as much as possible on some flimsy reasons.

This is one ugly patch on the company’s reputation. Some may argue that paying always on time is only possible by the rich companies who have deep pockets. Actually, it is not a funds flow problem. It is more of an attitude and values related problem. If there is funds crunch and the company is passing through lean times, it is understandable that the payments may be delayed for some time. But, when the cash flow is not tight and the company has enough funds to make the payments, such treatment is detrimental to the health of the company’s reputation.

Some companies have very fair and excellent method of processing supplier payments. They send the properly due dated cheque to the supplier well before that due date and confirm that the cheque was received before it was due. Vendors love to work for such customer companies and give them best goods and services.

On the other hand, in some companies there are some characters in the company’s payment process, who enjoy the sadistic pleasure in making the suppliers’ life miserable while getting their due payments. These companies are hated by the suppliers and they look forward to getting rid of such customers as soon as possible. When they get a chance to supply to a competitor, they would not hesitate doing so and will switch loyalties immediately. No wonder, our people in charge of payments made them do so…!

If we have sustained support and cooperation from our suppliers, we can build a quality reputation on the foundation of this relationship. Suppliers can help us in achieving true competitive advantage. So, if we wish to build long term relationship with our customers, we must also focus on establishing long term relationship with our suppliers as well. For that, we should not make them beg for their dues. Nobody likes to beg for payment after giving us goods and services. Beggars may not have choices, but our suppliers do have choices. Our competitors may welcome them with open arms.

Angrez style management practices must be adapted to Indian cultural sensitivities

Recently, while I was talking to the HR Head of a reputed company, he mentioned one very important point of impact of culture in organizations and management.  He was referring to an incident about a new junior executive joined in his company. The young man had previously worked with an MNC after completing his MBA. This was his second job. As could have been a culture in the MNC firm, as soon as he joined here, he started calling people by their first names. He did not realize this, but people started resenting him. They began to keep away from him. He did not get support from them. Many of the clients with whom he interacted also complained to his senior about his way of talking to them. He could not understand the reason. He approached this HR Head to find out what was wrong. After discussing with the young man, his senior and other colleagues, the HR Head found out the real cause of the problem. The young man’s habit calling people by their first names without the customary suffix or prefix that people were used to (e.g. Mr Ramesh, Rameshji, Ramesh Saab, Rameshbabu, etc.) was disturbing people.  He explained to the young man about the problem and suggested the corrective practice of calling people by the names they are used to being called.

The young man was puzzled. He argued, “But in my old company, this was the practice. We used to call our CEO also by his first name. This gave rise to an atmosphere of openness, you know. It fostered improved teamwork and bonding. Why can’t we have the same culture here?”

The HR Manager could empathize with the young man’s enthusiasm towards adapting newer, western practices. But, he was aware of the lack of social awareness on the part of the young man. He explained “I agree to what you are saying. But, we live in India. In Indian culture, we give a lot of importance to RESPECT. And one of the ways of showing respect is by how we address a person. In western countries, the person may be called only by the first name, but in India, sometimes some prefix or suffix is added like Rameshji, Ramesh Saab, Rameshbhai, Rameshbabu, Ramesh sir etc. This practice is a part of Indian culture of showing respect to seniors or elders.”

The young man was adamant. “But today, we are living in globalized world. We cannot continue this old fashioned practices of previous centuries. To be at par with the world, we must change to First Name Culture in our company. I urge you to implement this cultural change and start First Name Culture. It will improve out company’s image and performance.”

The HR Manager explained, “You may implement such practices with your foreign business partners or associates, but in India, it is not that simple and not advisable, too. You need to understand the language differences before implementing First Name Culture here.” He gave him an example :

For example, in English : Ramesh, how are you?

can be translated in Hindi in 3 ways :

(a) Ramesh, Aap Kaise hain? OR

(b) Ramesh, Tum Kaise Ho? OR

(c) Ramesh, Tu Kaisa Hai?

Now if we start calling everybody by first name, many people may not have the wisdom to use appropriate Hindi translations, when they speak to the same person in Hindi or other Indian language. This adaptation requires a certain degree of wisdom and intellectual capacity on the part of the person involved in the communication. In the absence of that, they may hurt the sentiments of the other person. Also, we may have got exposed to the global practices, but there are outsiders like customers, suppliers, associates and  millions of others in our country who are yet to be aware of many such practices. First Name Culture is just one example. There are many such practices, where mindless imitation is sometimes funny, appropriate or out of place. We may follow such practices while dealing with foreigners, to express our awareness and respect of their cultures, but by suddenly shifting to such superficial practices in our Indian work practices, we may inadvertently hurt sentiments of such people. By trying to call a big company’s senior manager by his first name who can be a big prospective customer for us, we may lose him forever.

The young man’s enthusiasm waned, but he was not convinced. HR Head was clear about the inappropriateness of changing some superficial practices, without understanding the underlying values in the culture.

Culture is the way we, as people, respond to various events. It gets manifested in various symbols, rituals, habits, languages, practices, images etc. The core of the culture is the values that we hold.  Values are the broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others. These represent the ideas that people have about how things “ought to be”. They are among the first things we learn as children, implicitly, not consciously. These values may remain unconscious to those who hold them. they can’t be directly observed by outsiders, but can be inferred from our behavior under various circumstances.

Respect is a very important part of Indian values. By adapting some practices like “First Name Culture”, we may bask in the satisfaction of being modern, but the reality of cultural difference remains and it may lead to some misunderstandings. Thoughtless imitation of western practices without realizing its repercussions may give rise to some undesirable outcomes by offending people’s sentiments and sensitivities. We must ensure that our organization does not jump into such superficial practices. We are Indians and we must be proud of our Indianness.

In my opinion, the tendency to adapt to such practices is nothing but a management wannabe-ism. We must not want to be a wannabe. Still a lot of our own potential is intact, waiting to be explored. Instead of being blind followers, we must be wise and selective. We must not sell our cultural values for some shallow management fads. If we do not exercise discretion, we will be left somewhere in the middle, neither in the West nor in the East.

That belonging to nowhereness will be similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s character in Subhash Ghai’s Pardes, in which towards the end of the film SRK reaches a bus stop somewhere in rural India, rejected by both the Indian as well as American families. On asked by a villager “Kahaan ke ho sahab?” he aptly replies “Kahin ka nahin….!!!”

Following quote of Peter Senge (Management Guru, Author : “Fifth Discipline”) drive the point home, precisely.

My intuition is that India and China will move somewhat together, but in very distinctive ways. But I think the thing that will be really common to both of them will be the fact that they won’t be able to do this without reconnecting to their heritage. They will have to develop a confidence that they can do this as Indians and they can do this as Chinese. They have learnt a lot from the west but they don’t have to copy, they cannot create an Indian or a Chinese version of a Western model. The Western model itself is basically bankrupt. It does not give enough side to the human side of development.

I think I need not say more on this…!